Snowshoeing and wellness in Lenzerheide

If Lenzerheide is good enough for Roger Federer (who has built a chalet there), there must be something quite marvellous about it. The first thing that struck me was how intriguing the lie of the valley is: it is layered with hillocks and forestry, removing the sense of 'walls' so often created in Alpine valleys and resulting in a sense of openness.

We were staying in Valbella, a hamlet just up the valley from Lenzerheide itself and overlooking Lake Heid. Our base - Hotel Valbella Inn, a recently renovated four-star wellness resort spread across four different buildings, and a stylish 'design hotel'-style room with a south-facing balcony. It was certainly late in the season for us to be attempting any snow sports, but at least I had managed to persuade Tim that trying to ski would be tricky.

Instead, we rented snow shoes and headed into the woods above Lenzerheide - where there was about as much snow as we had expected. "We're bound to reach some snow soon," said Tim, ever the optimist, as we trudged uphill through slush carrying our snow shoes. (It was so warm we scarcely needed our jackets). Eventually we did reach some meadows thick with snow, strapped on our snow shoes and darted about in them while we had the chance - before continuing to our destination in just our walking boots.

Sporz is a quaint and traditional village up from Lenzerheide, with old-world wooden structures and an air of having been forgotten by time. From there, it was an easy woodland trail (free from snow, of course) back to Lenzerheide. En route we came across a series of wooden benches adorned with lovely messages, such as "Spazieren zu sitzen ist ein Genuss" (Walking to sit is a pleasure) and "Ruths Pensionsbänkli" (Ruth's retirement bench). These gave a cutesy air to the resort, which is also artistic - with quirky sculptures and numerous art galleries lining the main street.

Admittedly we hadn't done a huge amount of snow shoeing, but we still took much advantage of Valbella Inn's gorgeous swimming pool and wellness area when we returned. The pool is deliciously warm - just cool enough to swim lengths - and also has a whirlpool and Kneipp path (seriously cold foot bath that is supposed to help the circulation - by shocking it into action it seems). Wellness is in a separate five-floor building, incorporating a panoramic sauna, various steam rooms, a salt peeling room and an ice peeling room. I tried the latter after a session in the bio sauna, and enjoyed the sensation of the ice melting into my skin. We then treated ourselves to a body peeling (me) and a classic massage (Tim), leaving me invigorated and Tim half asleep for dinner!

The resort's restaurant was lovely - I had leaf salad with goji berries followed by pan-friend salmon on leek risotto and dark-and-white chocolate mousse with fresh fruit. Topped off with a drink in the 'Chimney bar' sitting beside a roaring fire, the evening left us feeling utterly and completely untied from the stresses of the previous week.

The following day was easy - we awoke with a swim and a long and lazy breakfast, before walking around the lake and enjoying a cup of tea in the sunshine outside a cafe. The pistes above were still quite busy, but the mountains were clearly ready for spring - crocuses and snow drops were pushing up after a winter buried in the cold; the trees were green and blooming with colourful blossom, and the lake was starting to melt, ice giving way to crystal water. And just as the landscape was somewhere suspended between winter and summer, I was utterly content with our late-season weekend of halves - well, the snowshoeing at least was a walk of halves ...
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